What a peculiar theme! It must be Wednesday. I really wanted to like this puzzle, but I'm not sure in the end that I do.
Five two word phrases, each of whose words are also the PASTTENSE version of a verb. Some of these work very well, following my usual rules of engagement for this sort of thing; namely, that the phrase has to be in common parlance, and each individual word is not being used in the phrase in the past tense form of the verb in question.
Thus, FIXEDCOST doesn't work so well for me. I don't like the phrase very much, and the word "fixed" is the past tense of the verb "fix" being used in adjectival form. So, not so great. In contrast, I like LEFTHANDED better, even if the "handed" is not ideal according to my rules. Better still is SHOTPUT.
I can't complain much about 1A: One of two in "Hamilton" (ACT), seeing as how much I've been crowing about seeing the darned thing. But it's a meh first answer, and gets a C+. It was also my first confident answer. My error came in the next answer down. 13A: Question asked with an open mouth (WHA). Precisely. Wha...? I mean, really. TAXCO was no help. I guessed WHo. I guessed wrong, but who can blame me?
Here's what I did like: RECKLESS, HARDATIT, and JABBA. But some of the other long downs including DEADDROPS and STOPSPLAY are just not that exciting.
And who wants to think of a horse when presented with RUMP? So many opportunities missed here. I call foul. And can we retire AOL? Does it even actually exist anymore?
I think overall, I felt ENNUI while solving this puzzle.
Here's hoping the turn is more exciting.
In FIXEDCOST, "fixed" is an adjective, not the past form of a verb, so.... SHELLEY is always nice to see; what was she, 19 when she wrote "Frankenstein?" AENEID, PLUTO, WILES, RUSTLERS, DEADDROPS and UNCORK are all nice. I put in WHy at first, but TyXCO didn't work for me, even though I'd never heard of TAXCO, so I changed it to WHA pretty quickly. I mean, Sue and I were in Cabo San Lucas and there were plenty of silver shops there. Isn't all of Mexico known for silver? Finally, I don't mind having general sports in a puzzle (BBALL (very nice, with the two consonant pairs) and SHOTPUT). What I don't like is references to obscure (to me) sports people, and this puzzle avoided that, so I'll give it a thumbs up.
I had the exact same error as you, Colum, and, like, you, I really wanted to like this odd theme. In the end, I'm glad it was thought of and used, but, well, it's just not that exciting. All of the entries, except maybe LEFTHANDED (but even this one, if you think about attributes being "given"...) use the past tense adjectivally, don't they? A rose that has been cut, a shot that has been put, ground that has been lost. The trick, then, is really in finding the situations where the second word can also be construed as a past tense, and in that, he did well.
Also, if I win the lottery (a big enough lottery, that is) I will own a MCLAREN.